Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children and Young People with Vision Impairments

MEd/Postgraduate Diploma

Start date
MEd: 3 years PT; PGDip: 2 years PT
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning

2020 - 2021
£3,300 (Home/EU)
£6,150 (Overseas)
More Fees and funding details.

This two-year distance education programme is open to teachers with Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or equivalent, seeking the Mandatory Qualification (MQ) for specialist teachers of children and young people with vision impairments.

The MQ programme has been approved by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). An alternative programme (Education of Children and Young People with Vision Impairments) is also open to teachers (as well as other professionals with appropriate qualifications) working with children and young people with vision impairments who are not seeking the MQ.

  • Approximately 100 specialist teachers of children with vision impairment are trained each year, making the University of Birmingham the largest teacher training provider in the area of vision impairment in the United Kingdom.
  • The programme is  strongly rooted in practice and makes strong links with mainstream settings, special schools and settings, and sensory support services to help keep provision up to date and relevant to practice. 

You will be required to attend University based study-weekends and regional tutorials as specified throughout the programme. Details of the study weekends may be found in the Teaching and Assessment Tab. 

On successful completion of the PG Diploma you may transfer to the MEd programme (Education of Children and Young People with Vision Impairments). This is usually undertaken as an additional year of study and requires completion of a research methods module (4,000 words) and a dissertation (15,000 words). An additional fee is payable for this period of study.


You may also be interested in four of our other programmes:

Download information on all the postgraduate study programmes in the School of Education (PDF) 



Fees 2020 - 2021



  • Code 165B PGDip £3,300

Non Mandatory

  • Code 157B PGDip £3,300
  • Code 156B MEd £3,300


Mandatory  (you must have qualified teacher status (QTS) to apply for the mandatory course)

  • Code 165B PGDip £6,150

Non Mandatory

  • Code 157B PGDip £6,150
  • Code 156B MEd £6,150

Fees for distance learning programmes are based on students studying 60 credits per year. The fees shown above are the first year fees for students starting their courses September in 2020.

Learn more about fees and funding 

Please also read the information on the Additional Costs in the Learning and Teaching section.

For further information contact the School directly or the Student Funding Office via online enquiries.  

Scholarships and Loans

A postgraduate loans system for Masters degrees in the UK provides up to £10,906 for taught and research Masters courses in all subject areas including part-time and distance learning. 

Scholarships may be available, please view the Scholarships webpage in the School of Education. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. More details may be found on the international scholarships page.

For further information contact the Funding, Graduation & Awards Office via online enquiries. 

For EU students applying for the 2020/21 academic year

The UK Government has confirmed that EU students will continue to be eligible for 'home fee status' for entry in September 2020, and will continue to have access to eligible financial support via the Postgraduate Masters or Doctoral loan for the duration of their course. For more information visit the website.

You can also visit our EU Referendum information page for more information and updates.

How To Apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

Applicants are normally required to have a first degree or diplomas or five years of relevant professional experience, training or other relevant qualifications. In addition, it is a requirement that applicants are teachers with Department of Education Qualified Teacher Status (or equivalent) and will normally have a minimum of three years teaching experience. They must also demonstrate that they will have access to children and young people with vision impairments throughout the duration of the programme. Please note that for enrolment onto this course, Early Years Teaching Status does NOT count as qualified teacher status.

Applicants who are not currently working with children and young people with vision impairments may be required to undertake a programme of visits as directed by the programme tutors, and/ or to align themselves to an appropriate school or service prior to commencing their studies.   

All applicants will normally be interviewed by phone to confirm that they meet the programme requirements. As well as those requirements listed above you will be expected to have:

• Close affiliation with a school or service for children and young people with vision impairments (particularly relevant for self funding students) 
• Access to a braille machine for the duration of the programme (or willingness to purchase one) 
• Online access from home and or work 
• Appropriate resources and commitment to allow full engagement in all the required components of the programme (eg attendance at residential study weekend, tutorials, braille component etc)

International Requirements

The School of Education at the University of Birmingham has an international reputation for Special Education within the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs. It offers Distance Learning programmes in vision impairments, multi-sensory impairments, language and literacy impairments, deafness and hearing impairments, learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural difficulties and autism as well as full and part-time modular programmes in many areas of Special Educational Needs. The vision impairment programmes are well established and have been offered for over 25 years as both full-time and part-time options.

Tutors on the programme are aligned to the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) which brings together the teaching and research activities of colleagues at the University in the area of vision impairment and education. 

The aims of VICTAR are to:

  • undertake social and educational research in the area of vision impairments; 
  • offer training in the area of visual impairment and education through high quality and relevant professional development programmes; 
  • disseminate our work to ensure it has positive impact.

Underlying this work is the belief that:

'Through education, through research, and through access to appropriate resources, the barriers to learning and participation that may be experienced by people with visual impairment can be better understood and reduced'.

The VICTAR is part of a broader Sensory Team and works directly with colleagues in the fields of Deafness and Hearing Impairment, and Deafblindness / Multi-sensory Impairment. 

Delivery of the programme is mainly through Distance Learning although you will be required to attend residential weekends and regional tutorials as specified throughout the programme. The programme includes an assessed braille component, a teaching placement and a negotiated programme of visits to specialist provision. As most of the module content will be delivered online you will require suitable internet access prior to commencing their studies. The programme and individual modules draw upon a range of learning and teaching approaches, a number of which are structured around the principles of enquiry based learning (EBL).

You will be tutored by recognized experts in the field who work in the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching And Research (VICTAR) and will have access to extensive research materials. 

Residential Study Weekends

Over the course of the two year programme, you will be required to attend four three day residential study weekends which are held in September and March/April at the School of Education. The study weekends are a compulsory component of the course programme and attendance is a course requirement. The provisional dates for 2020-2021 are:

4 - 6 September 2020
26 - 28 March 2021 (provisional)

Regional tutors

You will normally be allocated a Regional Tutor who will offer support and guidance throughout the programme. The Regional Tutors will arrange to meet their students in Regional Groups on a regular basis throughout each year (approximately once per module). Online tutorials may also be offered as an alternative to face to face meetings.

Regional Study Days

In year one of the programme, you will be required to attend a Regional Study Day which takes place on a Saturday. The Study Day is a compulsory part of the programme and you will be asked to prepare some work for the day’s discussion, either as an individual, or as part of a group. In year two of the programme, this component will usually take place online.

Time for Study

Your involvement in the programme will require you to be released from some of your current work, and it will be helpful for applicants to consider carefully these issues with their line managers/sponsors prior to the interview:

  • The programme tutors strongly recommend that students are allowed a minimum of half a day per week for study and research.
  • Module 2 includes a negotiated programme of visits for participants to observe different types of provision for children and young people with vision impairments for example, LVA / orthoptic clinics, other services, schools, colleges, etc. You will be required to negotiate a minimum of 10 visits with their Regional Tutors and line manager. For planning purposes a ‘visit’ is considered to require a minimum of half a day, although for some visits a full day may be required. Further guidance on this component will be offered at Residential Study Weekend 1. 
  • Full participation in the Residential Study Weekends requires attendance on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Accommodation for these components is offered at the University. 
  • Teachers may require extended release for the 15 day teaching placement in year 2. An additional day may be required for a visit to the host school/service prior to commencing the practice. 
  • The time needed by students for study may decrease their ability to help with other types of activities. 

Further information about the Teaching Placement

The 15 day assessed teaching placement usually takes place between September and July of Year 2. We recommend that where possible, you undertake your placement outside your own school/service (for which an additional one day pre-placement visit may be required). As part of the placement you will be expected to demonstrate your ability to teach children or young people with vision impairments using both sighted and non-sighted methods.  

Additional Expenditure

When making an application for funding for this programme, it will be useful for those who are being sponsored to bring to their employer’s notice these additional costs. These costs are approximate and should be adapted for individual circumstances. 

Year one

Cover for Module 1 negotiated programme of visits (10 visits – each visit a minimum of half-a-day)
Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)
Travel to Regional Tutorials
Cover for Module 1 negotiated programme of visits (10 visits – each visit a minimum of half-a-day) Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)

Travel to: 

  • Regional Tutorials 
  • Educational Visits 
  • Regional Study Day 
  • Residential Study Weekends 1 and 2 (University of Birmingham)

Key texts for the programme (Approx £300)

Year Two

Cover for Year 2 teaching placement (15 days practice + up to 1 pre-placement visit)
Cover for half-a-day ‘study leave’ (40 weeks)
Travel to: 

  • Regional Tutorials 
  • Educational Visits 
  • Regional Study Day 
  • Residential Study Weekends 3 and 4 (University of Birmingham) 
  • Teaching Placement

Additional texts for the programme (approx £100)

Sponsors and students will be asked to sign a Programme Agreement once the application has been processed.
This document is also available in an alternative format (ie. large print, electronic copy, Braille) on request.  

Assessment Methods

The programme requires successful completion of a portfolio containing:

  • evidence that you have met all the relevant National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) standards for the mandatory qualification in vision impairments;
  • evidence that you have achieved competence in Grade 2 British Braille; and
  • a critical analysis of the negotiated teaching placement during which you have demonstrated effective classroom management to a visiting assessor appointed by the University

On successful completion of the programme you will be awarded a PG Diploma (Mandatory Qualification for Teachers of Children and Young People with Vision Impairments). This award is recognised by the NCTL as meeting the requirements for the mandatory qualification for specialist teachers of children and young people with vision impairments.


Helen Newman

"All the people involved with the programme are approachable and happy to help.  My personal tutor was brilliant, she provided support both academically and on a personal level; she was always just an email away or even a coffee as she actually didn’t live too far from me!"
Helen Newman, former student.

Read Helen's full profile